Thousands Rally Across The Nation To #ReclaimMLK

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Above: Reenacting the Selma to Montgomery march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on Jan. 18, 2015. Source heyshaelyn/Instagram

Over 50 Cities Nationwide Rally Against Police Abuse and For Racial Justice on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Thousands of people across the country took to the streets to reclaim the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a radical who sought national transformation, not just voting rights for all but an end to militarism, challenged capitalism and an end to racism. Ferguson Action wrote  “From here on, MLK weekend will be known as a time of national resistance to injustice.”

John Zangas of the DC Media Group reports on a “Four Mile March” protest:

In Washington, D.C., the No F.EA.R. and Hands Up Coalitions, The Coalition Against Police Violence (TheCapV), and National Association Against Police Brutality (NAAPB) rallied with several hundred at the White House. They built on momentum gained from the ongoing BlackLivesMatter movement in cities such as Ferguson Missouri, New York and Los Angeles, where prominent cases of unarmed Blacks killed by police are galvanizing civic change.

After speakers decried police at the White House, the marched to Chinatown, shutting major intersections. They held a die-in at the Chinatown arch and then marched to the Department of Justice, holding another die-in. Both die-ins lasted 4 1/2 minutes, mimicing the time in minutes Mike Brown’s body was left in the street (4 1/2 hours) by Ferguson police.

Johnathan Newton, co-founder of NAABP said, “What Dr. Martin Luther King was doing in the 1960s during the civil rights movement is very similar to what we are doing today.” 

We began our day with a radio show in Washington, DC that focused on reclaiming the radical Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., talking with three #BlackLivesMatter activists. Jasiri X of Pittsburgh described the day as the most important MLK Day of his life. Cat Brooks of the Bay Area described 96 hours of direct action around MLK weekend. All guests connected the police abuse protests with the unfair economy and the need for radical change:

Coast to coast communities are celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this year by rejecting the watered-down version of Dr. King and lifting up the Dr. King who questioned capitalism, who saw the connections between racism, militarism and economic injustice and who promoted independent politics. We will speak about Dr. King’s politics and how they relate to the current economic and political environment. We will also talk about the current protests. Kymone Freeman who is co-founder of We Act Radio and also a leading organizer of DC Ferguson and other local groups demanding police reform will be our guest. He will also speak about his new play, “Whites Only.” We will also be joined by Jasiri X and Cat Brooks.

Huffington Post reports that in the San Francisco Bay Area:

On early Monday morning, protesters in California gathered outside the home of newly elected Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, who spent her first day in office with Oakland police.

Protesters chanted “Wake up Libby!” “No sleeping on the job!” and “You chose to prioritize blue, but today you will hear black,” according to SFGate.com . . . 

And on Sunday night, about 150 people marched through the streets in the Bay Area to protest against racial injustice as part MLK weekend activities.

Common Dreams summed up the day as an effort to end the sanitized version of Dr. King:

Thousands of people took to the streets on Monday rebuking what they say is the “sanitized” version of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and calling to restore the legacy of a man whose protests, like their own, were never “convenient.”

The nationwide actions marked the birthday of the civil rights leader in a year that saw renewed calls for racial justice in the face of persistent inequality, discrimination, and police targeting of communities of color.

Capping off almost a week of demonstrations, organizational meetings, and other pledges of resistance—all done with the intent to “Reclaim MLK”—grassroots coalition Ferguson Action issued a specific call for Monday: “Do as Martin Luther King would have done and resist the war on Black Lives with civil disobedience and direct action. Take the streets, shut it down, walk, march,  and whatever you do, take action.”

In Philadelphia, an estimated ten thousand people marched through the city center before holding a rally outside of Independence Hall. Organized by a broad-based coalition MLK D.A.R.E., the Philadelphia demonstrators are calling for an end to the racially-biased “Stop and Frisk” policing program, a $15 per hour minimum wage and the right to form unions, and a fully funded, democratically controlled local school system.

Below are a sampling of the tweets from across the country.

Stanford students shut down San Mateo Bridge